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Restructuring resolution draws controversy

County Council

The Press and Banner obtained a copy of the resolution for establishing a Department of Public Safety within Abbeville County government.

The County is charged with the overall delivery of public safety services, and it currently delivers those services through E-911, Rural Fire, EMS, and the Sheriff's Office.

"In order to ensure the most efficient and accountable method of delivery of these services and increase the flow of information and communication, the County desires to restructure E-911, Rural Fire, and EMS under a singular department and united mission."

Thus, the County seeks to establish a Department of Public Safety, to be comprised of E-911, Rural Fire, and EMS.

This department would be comprised of a Director, a Deputy Director, Training Coordinator, EMS Coordinator, Fire Coordinator, E-911 Coordinator, and Office Manager.

All other positions "will remain subject to modification of job descriptions and titles."

"All budgets and funds will remain separated in accordance with generally accepted accounting practices and funding on those functions approved by County Council in the annual budget," the resolution states.

"The County Director is directed to make all necessary modifications to current organizational charts and job description titles to accomplish this directive."

"A detailed report evaluating the progress and outcomes will be provided to County Council by the County Director at the 30-day, 90-day, 180-day, and one year mark of this implementation."

During a break in the meeting, we spoke with firefighters Jesse Karls and Bryan Parnell about their concerns regarding the proposed resolution.

Parnell indicated that the County's fire commission had had concerns about the proposal.

The County firefighters operate under the Abbeville County rural fire commission, Parnell said.

"We've been acting under this structure since 1977," he said.

The firefighters are 100 percent volunteer, he said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

"The fire commission is our governing body," he said, explaining that the 11 members of the commission are elected by the firefighters, and each commissioner represents a fire department.

County Council approves the budges for the fire commission, Parnell said.

"We're just not clear about what they want to do," said Jesse Karls, the chairman of the rural fire commission, Monday night.

County Council chairman Bryan McClain said Tuesday that the fire commission had sent County Council a letter asking that any action on the matter be postponed until they could get more information.


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